Satanic Tactics: Understanding Our Thoughts 1

Walking the path to Allah is a type of war and its battlefield is the heart. To win, we must strengthen our army – our soul, and weaken the enemy – our lower-self and the devil. This is the eighth in a series of articles on Satanic Tricks: Seven Tricks of the Devil.

Basically, Satan has seven tricks that you have to be on guard for. Two principles help us just consider our thoughts. First, safety is in identifying one’s thoughts early. If you recognize early on that this is a good thought, then you would want to go from first thought to resolve to determination as soon as possible. If you stop long enough, you may never get to resolve and realizing it.

The opposite is true as well. There is a negative momentum to bad thoughts. If you think about it, it is like going downhill. The way of good is like going uphill, it requires effort. Whereas the way of sin is like going downhill.

Responsibility only arises with resolve or determination. There is mercy in that.  Anytime you even entertain a bad thought, proper manners is to say “Astaghfirullah,” but also to be grateful. Allah tells us:

لَا یُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَاۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَیۡهَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡۗ  

“Allah does not tax any soul but what it can bear: it shall have all it earns, and but pay for what it commits.” [Quran, 2:286; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

Allah does not make a soul responsible beyond its capacity. For it, is what it acquires of the good, which are the choices it makes of good. Against it, are the choices it makes of harm. Until you make that choice (you said yes to something), there is no responsibility. That is mercy.

The Occurring Thoughts

Four types of thoughts occur. Imam Ghazali explains this in a lot of detail. Many of the scholars simplified it a little bit. 

The first is what they call the Divine Inspiration (Al-Khatir Al-Rabbani). 

The second is an Angelic Inspiration (Al-Khatir Al-Malaki).

Ultimately, of course, Allah is the creator of all things. Everything is from Allah. The Divine Inspiration is a meaning of faith that one finds in one’s heart. There is really nothing to do for you in it. For instance, you are driving, you come to the stop sign and you look up and see the horizon, You get this thought, “This is the creation of Allah.”

An angelic inspiration is an inspiration towards the good, whether worldly good or next-worldly good.

Thirdly, there are selfish inspirations (Al-Khatir Al-Nafsani). These are inclinations towards one’s desires or whims in a manner in which there is no connected consideration of benefit or consideration of the pleasure of Allah. A person may get the thought, “I want a steak.” Why? “Because I do.” It could be whimsical because you already had lunch. 

Fourthly, there are Devilish Inspirations (Al-Khatir Al-Shaytani). These come in a variety of ways. Ultimately, the purpose is to turn you away from Allah, directly or indirectly, immediately or gradually.

The Divine Inspirations 

The Divine Inspiration is typically connected to meanings related to faith. Either it is a meaning related to Allah Himself, or His attributes, or His actions, or signs of Allah. 

Or, they can be meanings related to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and our connection with him. 

Or, they can be meanings related to the qualities of faith, for example, if you are sitting down and you get a thought of contentment with Allah 

There is no direct action that you can do with these thoughts. There are things that one can do to strengthen these calls because these are calling you directly to Allah.   You want to dwell therein. How? If a thought comes to you pointing you towards Allah, or a meaning related to faith, embrace it through reflection. 

Feel gratitude to Allah. Very often we may just move on. But, one should pause and reflect on that meaning. Do not let it be fleeting. Whether it is gratitude or hope. The proper response to it is to cultivate it. 

One of the things that helps reflect on it is remembrance (Dhikr). Any remembrance will do. Say, “La ilaha illallah,” or, “Alhamdulillah,” or, “Subhanallah.” Remembrance helps this reflection. Remembrance itself is an act. 

Sometimes, there may be clear consequences that become apparent such as renewing your resolve and making some commitment of good.  

These are the Divine Inspirations. They are more likely to occur when you turn frequently to Allah. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) relates from Allah, that Allah Most High says, “Whoever draws close to Me by a hand span, I draw close to them by an arm’s length, and whoever draws close to me by an arm’s length, I draw close to them by two arm’s lengths, and whoever comes to me walking, I rush to them.”

These kinds of spiritual thoughts are calling us to meanings of faith. Sometimes consider, “What is it that caused these good thoughts to come?” Frequently when you serve others for the sake of Allah, and you do things with sincerity, you find these positive meanings.

The Angelic Inspirations

Then there are angelic inspirations. These generally call towards good deeds, whether spiritual good deeds or worldly good deeds. Whether related to yourself or related to others.

These are a little more tricky. There is a little more of a possibility of Satan coming in here. One of the tricks of Satan is to busy yourself with the good you should be doing with other things.  

For instance, it is time to pray and you decide to send an email to your long-forgotten uncle whom you have been meaning to connect with. You can do it after the prayer too. If by sending the email you will enter the disliked time of Asr and you have not yet prayed it, you should pray first, then send the email. 

Generally, it is an angelic inspiration if it is a calling to something good in itself. How do you know if it is angelic? If it is likely to have good consequences. The way of safety to know that this is something genuinely good is by considering this thing to be good itself and that its consequences are going to be good. Knowing this requires knowledge. 

If a person has a cousin who is not religious, and he decides to buy him a ten-volume Quranic exegesis work, although gifting someone a book of tafsir is pretty good, it is probably not what his cousin (who has got a bit of distaste for religion) need. He could well be offended too. So one considers if this matter is good as well as its consequence.

Check your intention. Is one doing it with good intentions? Is one’s motive good?